WARNER ROBINS — The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to fire Warner Robins City Clerk Stan Martin, who earlier was implicated in an alleged attempt to break into the mayor’s office.
Mayor John Havrilla initiated the special called meeting when he suspended Martin without pay Monday. Council deliberated behind closed doors for about 45 minutes about whether to reinstate or terminate Martin.
The council’s decision to fire Martin was based on the belief Martin’s “actions and his behaviors did not meet the standards we expect,” Havrilla said following the meeting.
Martin and Christine Armstrong, an information technology employee, were accused of attempting to gain access to the mayor’s office through ceiling tiles from a connecting office at 5:20 p.m. Oct. 7. The locks on the mayor’s office were changed after the Sept. 28 death of Mayor Donald Walker.
The pair were placed on paid administrative leave while the GBI investigated the incident. Last week, a Houston County grand jury decided no criminal charges would be brought against either Martin or Armstrong.
Armstrong was sent a letter of notice of termination Monday, said Bill Harte, acting city clerk. She has until Friday to appeal the decision. If the firing is upheld, she may request a hearing with an administrative judge, Harte said.
Martin repeatedly has denied wrongdoing and continued to do so Tuesday.
“I was trying to help someone. I was not trying to break into the mayor’s office,” he said following the meeting.
Martin said Armstrong came to him saying she was told money and guns were hidden in the ceiling above the mayor’s office. Martin said he told her he didn’t believe it because Walker had a foot injury and couldn’t get up to the ceiling.
But Armstrong persisted, Martin said. So Martin said he asked a maintenance worker for a ladder and used it to look in through the ceiling of an adjoining office.
“All we could see was fiberglass insulation,” he said.
Martin said he thought the matter was settled until he received a phone call from Havrilla, who told him he was being put on paid administrative leave. He said Havrilla never gave him a chance to explain.
Martin, who called Havrilla “drunk with power,” said he would treat the situation the same if he had to do it again.
“I’m disappointed. No reason was ever given why I was being terminated,” he said.
Martin said he would review his options with his attorney, Bo Sammons. Sammons said there are potential litigation options he would explore with Martin.
Last week, the council voted to name Harte the acting city clerk. Harte, the city’s comptroller, was filling in for Martin. The council took no further action regarding the position Tuesday.
Mayor-elect Chuck Shaheen and incoming council members will replace Havrilla and the current council Jan. 4.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report. To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.